Kendall Jenner’s Faulty Business Ventures: Why She Is Shamed for Cultural Appropriation


Jenner, a 25-year-old supermodel, announced that after nearly four years of preparation she would be releasing her own brand of Tequila dubbed 818. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Elizabeth Hoffman, Contributing Writer

Kendall Jenner has been blacklisted recently for appropriating Mexican culture. This is not the first time Jenner, or her infamous family, have made headlines for similar accusations of appropriation. Jenner, a 25-year-old supermodel, announced that after nearly four years of preparation she would be releasing her own brand of Tequila dubbed 818.

Many people are upset by Jenner’s cultural appropriation, largely because of her family’s repeated misuse of various cultures. This includes family members wearing historically Black cornrows, or Kim Kardashian wanting to name her clothing brand after the traditional Japanese kimono. Jenner, alongside many other Americans, doesn’t show a true appreciation for Mexican culture but instead uses it to her advantage. For example, many people have criticized 818’s label since tequila should be called “Tequila Blanco,” not “Blanco Tequila.” Though Jenner spent 3.5 years perfecting the brand, it seems like her research and development team overlooked the correct labeling.

818 was named after the birthplace of the Kardashian-Jenner empire, Calabasas, California. The honorific title is a clear example of the harmful appropriation by the Kardashian family. It displays their elitism since Jenner seems to have foregone crediting the culture that provides tequila. 

The concept of naming it after where she grew up and not giving credit to the region and culture of Mexico is a bit troublesome. Sure, Jenner’s label states the region of origin as Jalisco, Mexico, but it doesn’t acknowledge the deep-rooted culture behind it. People are upset because Jenner is reaping the benefits of a product that is not of her culture. However, other American celebrities have created tequila brands before without the same level of harsh criticism. George Clooney, Dwayne Johnson, Rita Ora and Justin Timberlake all have their own brand of tequila but have not received backlash for cultural appropriation. Jenner has been shamed solely because of her family name.

The backlash is largely in part to Jenner’s Gen Z and millennial fan base, who are strong proponents of cancel culture. Cancel culture is the act of ostracising people based on actions that are deemed socially unacceptable. Initially, cancel culture was used to rid social media of individuals who have participated in injustices. It has since developed into shaming and bullying, rather than teaching and informing individuals of wrongdoings. The line between constructive criticism and harmful vilification is blurred. What specifics classify something as cultural appropriation?

It’s perfectly okay to adopt facets of different cultures within your daily life, as long as you appreciate their origins. Plenty of American celebrities have started their own tequila brands and reaped the rewards of an undervalued culture without being called out for their actions. There is a distinct difference between manipulating a culture for financial gain and simply borrowing from it. As a white, American female, it might not be my place to dub Jenner’s venture as a true injustice or not. However, what I do know is that people intentionally pick on Jenner and choose to find fault in her acts.

More often than not, Jenner and other members of her family receive backlash and disapproval for many of their personal ventures. Society is always checking for potential ulterior motives. The Kardashian-Jenner empire has extensive and domineering control within various markets. At this point, their ventures seem like just another way to add to their bountiful assets. People criticize the family for not addressing inequalities and modern-day issues when the real problem is the family’s selfish motives for financial gain. 

Are people truly mad that the family isn’t giving credit where credit is due? Or are they just upset having to witness the rich get richer? 

Jenner’s counterparts haven’t endured the same public struggle. I don’t see anyone raising issues against any other celebrity-owned tequila brands. The main reason? Jenner is receiving backlash on account of her family name.

Elizabeth Hoffman, GSB ’23, is an information systems major from Basking Ridge, N.J.